Above: Wendy Block and Vicki Craver
Imagine if 100 women formed a partnership where each contributed $1,000 with one goal: making a difference. That pot could grow exponentially. And so, too, could its potential impact on smaller projects that may not be receiving the support needed. Greenwich residents Vicki Craver and Wendy Block not only imagined creating such a giving circle in Fairfield County, they linked their shared passion for philanthropy to start one.
Drawing on their diverse backgrounds in philanthropy management (Wendy) and Wall Street (Vicki), the women joined forces this year to found Impact Fairfield County. The nonprofit is modeled on similar female-driven giving circles around the country that began when Cincinnati’s Impact 100 launched in 2001. Each independent “impact” circle is focused on empowering women to use their financial clout and collaborative instincts to support community projects.
The premise is smartly simple. Impact Fairfield County is focused on recruiting at least 100 women who commit to a minimum annual donation of $1,000 each. Their contributions are pooled to underwrite grants of $100,000 each.
Members play a direct role in vetting the organizations seeking grants. And popular vote determines recipients, the founders explain.
“We see this as an opportunity for women to get involved,” says Vicki, who was introduced to philanthropy when she chaired the Fairfield County Community Foundation’s Fund for Women and Girls. “It’s leveraging their thousand dollars into a hundred thousand dollars.”
Already, fifty women throughout the region have opened their checkbooks since the nonprofit’s soft launch in May. A formal recruitment campaign kicked off last month with the goal of awarding at least one major grant by spring. “It would be a dream if we could do more,” says Vicki.
HOW TO BENEFIT?
WENDY AND VICKI OFFER INSIGHT INTO THE PROJECTS MEMBERS WILL CONSIDER FOR THE FIRST ROUND OF GRANTS THIS SPRING.
“We have an interest in learning about and highlighting needs we may not even be aware of,” says Vicki. “We hope people will learn about an organization more broadly through our support.”
“We want people to dream big,” says Wendy. “The idea is that these grants can be transformative.”
“While we are both from Greenwich, we’re committed to the idea that this should benefit the region and not just our one community,” says Wendy. “It’s also the best way to grow our own giving community.”